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Smart and easy ways to Cut Your Spending In Half and raise your standard of living ... and giving!
By Kelly Hancock
WORTHY PUBLISHINGCopyright © 2011 Kelly Hancock
All rights reserved.
SAVE MONEY, LIVE GENEROUSLY
What if you could save 50 percent or more on your grocery bill without giving up the things you love? What other things would you spend your money on if you could cut your grocery bill in half? Would you like to save money on every purchase you make? In what ways could you be generous and help others with the money you are saving?
If you like to save money, you are in the right place! I love to get bargains on the things I need, and now I have more control over that than ever before.
Why do I want to save money? It allows my family to do things that we wouldn't normally do. It provides us an opportunity to make purchases without going into debt and to go places we might otherwise never venture. The savings we realize from being savvy shoppers allow us to save money for the future—for items we plan to buy or to put into savings, a retirement account, or our kids' college accounts.
Another benefit from shopping wisely is that it gives us the ability to share generously with others. Because we aren't spending as much money on groceries, we can give joyfully to others. Not out of obligation or duty, but because we have such abundance and it is fun to bless others out of what we have been entrusted with. We give away more now than we did as a dual-income family with no children. My, how our priorities have shifted! We are able to give our time, talents, money, food, and other donations on a regular basis ... all because we save on our everyday spending.
Your circumstances may differ from ours:
* You may be trying to get out of debt and need to find another way to save.
* You may be saving up to make a big purchase like a car or a home.
* You may be trying to find extra money to put toward your mortgage, college savings, or retirement.
* You may just be trying to put food on the table and make ends meet.
No matter what your circumstance, you can learn how to get control of your spending and start saving money today, and I will show you how.
Do You Want to Save More?
Times are difficult in our country. Families are facing tough decisions in their everyday lives. Just go online or open a magazine or newspaper, and you will be confronted by all that is plaguing families:
* Underemployment is high.
* Average incomes are flat.
* Food and gas prices are rising.
* The savings rate is at its lowest in US history.
And yet, while all of that is happening, we are also seeing:
* A rise in volunteer activity.
* Declines in consumer-credit-card use.
* The highest rate of coupon redemption in years.
Many families are in saving and maintaining mode right now. They are going without or seeking less expensive options. They are paying attention to the price of fuel and the price of milk. They have shopped their insurance and refinanced their mortgage.
What else can families or individuals do to save money? That is where I can help. In this book, I will:
* show you how to avoid paying full price for items you use every day
* teach you practical ways to trim your grocery budget while keeping your pantry stocked
* encourage you to reconsider how you shop for groceries
* explain how to have plenty left over to share with others
Saving Savvy provides common-sense solutions that will help you stretch your dollars, purchase strategically, and give away more than you ever dreamed possible. My goal is to introduce you to the many practical tools and resources available that will help you save money.
What Is Saving Savvy?
According to Dictionary.com, the word savvy means to be experienced, shrewd, and informed; to know. In short, I want you to be shrewd and informed shoppers who make the smartest purchasing decisions possible. If your goal is to save money, then utilize the tools in this book that will help you work smarter, not harder. Once you learn how to be savvy in your saving, you will spend less time trying to save money and have more time to spend with the people you love. You will have money for the things you need and give away more than you ever thought you could.
Does This Really Work?
Some of you might be wondering, Does this really work? or, Can I even do this? The answer lies in how badly you want to make a change. The resources and tools in this book do work, and yes, you can do it! The level at which you implement these tools will depend on your available time. Those who have more time to commit will save more, and those who have less time will save but maybe not on as large a scale.
The reasons people turn to strategic saving and couponing are many.
Some see it as an income. Jennifer says, "I think of coupons as free cash. I don't throw away money, so thinking of coupons as cash helps me to keep on going and to stay committed. And now that I have no job, it makes couponing even more important to my family."
Some make it into a game. Christina was thrilled when her receipt said she had saved $68. "I only spent $20! I feel like it was payday when I went shopping ... it's a game and a challenge."
Some had money-saving strategies engrained in them. Ann explains, "I grew up cutting and sorting coupons. My mom, aunts, and grandmother all do it."
Some see it as God's provision. Brandi is grateful for the savings strategies she put into place several months ago. "I have a four-year-old son and my mother-in-law lives with me. I think God brought me to couponing because He realized I would need it in the future. My husband was killed in a car accident three months ago. God, friends, and family have gotten me through it emotionally, and couponing has helped me tremendously."
Your reasons for becoming a savvy shopper may be the same as some of our readers or totally different. No matter the reason, everyone likes to save money.
What Are Your Goals?
My goals initially were to save money, to be a better manager of our family's finances, and to find ways to give. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to make your budget stretch further? Learn how to use coupons? Figure out how to stock up on the foods your family eats? No matter what your motivations, the process begins with setting goals.
Here are a few tips to help you define and nurture your goals:
Write them down. A goal not written down is just a dream. Writing down your finalized list of goals will give you focus. Put them where you will see them every day.
Weed your list of goals. Your initial list of goals may be large. Rather than take them all on, give some time and consideration to them, and, like pulling weeds from the garden, narrow your list down to the most important ones. The more specific the list, the better.
Surround yourself with like-minded people. If your goal is to save money and time and to be wiser in your shopping, seek out those who do it well and find forums where you can share ideas and ask questions. Find a group of friends to read this book with you and encourage each other as you put these strategies into practice. Build a team of people around you who have similar goals and understand your point of view.
A Paradigm Shift: Never Pay Full Price Again
The most important thing about saving money with the methods and resources outlined in the upcoming pages is to change the way you think about shopping. The way we are going to approach saving will be a paradigm shift in how you view your everyday purchases. The ultimate goal is never to pay full price again.
Think about it this way. Instead of running out and purchasing what you need right now at whatever price it is on the shelf, you will only purchase items that are a good deal. As you incorporate this savvy saving lifestyle, you will find that almost everything you need, you have on hand. You purchased those items during previous sales, and hopefully at least half off the retail price. All you are doing now is seeking great deals on the items you will need in the future. Because you are planning ahead, you have fewer financial "emergencies." You reduce the amount you spend on unexpected purchases when you don't have to make a big grocery purchase every week.
What Is Your Shopping Comfort Zone?
Getting out of your shopping comfort zone can be hard, and the change may seem overwhelming at first. Whenever you are doing something new, you will have lots of questions. Also, as you begin to implement these savvy saving strategies, you might feel like you are swimming against the current. But if you stick with it, you'll be amazed at how much more money you'll have at the end of every month.
Consider for a moment anyone who has achieved greatness in a chosen field. How did they become so great? They didn't roll out of bed one morning and decide to be the greatest at what they do.
* They put in time to hone their skills.
* They have a coach, a mentor, or a trusted adviser to help them navigate the journey.
* They view setbacks as opportunities to improve.
* They have clearly defined goals.
* They have a positive attitude.
* They act on their God-given talent.
You might be wondering what this has to do with saving money. Plenty. You have recognized something you want to change (save money), and now you have a goal in mind. You have a coach who will help you reach your goal (Saving Savvy and FaithfulProvisions.com). You may meet with some resistance on this path to savings, but with time and practice, you will overcome that. By reading this book, you will learn how to save money and live generously. You are taking the positive action necessary to reach your goals.
There is an old saying about learning to walk before you can run, and that is true for savvy saving as well. If you have never shopped sale items, used coupons, stocked ahead, or planned meals, how can you be expected to know what to do? As you read the following chapters, keep these two points in mind:
1. Take your time. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Allow yourself some grace. We all mess up sometimes.
A Time to Learn
Before you read further, take a moment to answer the following questions. They will help you decide where you are going to spend your time in this book.
___ 1. When you hear the term stocking up, what comes to mind?
a. Wow, my pantry is empty.
b. I have some food and other items on hand.
c. My food is organized, I didn't pay full price, and I have peace of mind.
___ 2. How much time do you put into planning visits to the grocery store?
a. Not much.
c. I put in enough time to be prepared to take advantage of sales.
d. I don't have time to plan.
___ 3. What best describes the contents of your freezer?
a. Full of UFOs (unidentified frozen objects).
b. Clean but complicated—many kinds of containers with contents dated a year ago!
c. Clean and uncomplicated—clearly labeled containers with dates.
d. Really, really cold food.
___ 4. How often do you make a meal plan?
a. Never, but I'd like to try.
b. Sometimes, but it is not a habit.
c. Often, because it is the best way to save money.
d. I don't plan meals; I eat them.
___ 5. How often do you use coupons for grocery items?
a. Not often, because I can't keep track of them and don't think I save that much.
b. Sometimes, but I never seem to have them with me.
c. Often. I add coupons to sale items for deeper savings.
d. What are coupons?
___ 6. How organized are you when you visit the grocery store to shop?
a. Unorganized, but I want to get better.
b. Somewhat organized, but I need a little help.
c. Highly organized—and I know the specific aisles to visit.
d. I left my shopping list on the kitchen counter next to my phone.
___ 7. How generous are you?
a. I want to give, but financially we can't right now.
b. I give some, but I could give more.
c. I give items and time on a regular basis.
d. Thanks, but I gave at the office.
If you answered ...
mostly "a": You are an open canvas. Get ready—you will be learning more than you ever dreamed possible. This will be such a fun and fruitful journey for you. Your life will never be the same, and neither will your wallet!
mostly "b": You have begun your journey to saving, but there are many new and wonderful tips to unveil. Since you have already dabbled in saving, you are clearly eager to learn more—and it is all about the attitude.
mostly "c": The biggest job for you is to fine-tune your already-learned skills. Find tips and tools that will not only help you save more money, but save you more time.
mostly "d": We have a little work to do. But don't worry! You are reading this book, and that means you have the attitude and the interest to do what it takes to turn your spending around.
Depending on how you answered, you are demonstrating that you may have much to learn or already know more than you think. To some, this is a whole new way to provide for their family. Others have been doing some of these things for a while but want to take their savings knowledge a step further and begin to live generously. No matter where you are, this book will provide you with more ways to save.
How Much Time Can You Invest?
In the coming chapters, you will be presented with many options to save money. Each will have pros and cons. You will choose which savings strategies to implement according to what interests you or what fits your particular season of life. But ultimately, the tools and resources you choose will be determined by how much time you have to devote to them.
For those who have more time for things like meal planning, shopping to stock up, and couponing, your savings will stack up much more quickly. Still, even with less time, you can save money by selecting a few strategies in this book and incorporating them.
For instance, as we will describe in detail later, meal planning can save you quite a bit on your grocery budget. However, if you aren't good at planning, or if you don't have the time to make weekly meal plans, what can you do? You may choose to invest in a meal-planning service to do the work for you. You can then use other savings strategies, such as stocking up or couponing, to counteract the costs incurred by subscribing to a meal-planning service. You'll still be saving money; you'll just be adapting these strategies to what works best for you and your family.
As you read, consider each tool presented in the book and the amount of time it will take you to implement. Everyone is different, so the savvy saving ideas you put to use will be different from those that someone else chooses. Simply choose what works best for you.
This book isn't about implementing every single strategy. It's about choosing a path to savvy saving that works for you.
Getting Your Family on Board
Before you even start your savvy saving lifestyle, you must get your family on board in some capacity. You know your family best, so consider what motivates them and use that to get their help in maintaining this new way of living.
Saving for a Family Trip or Event
Encourage one another to seek out sales and coupons or to go without "wants" in order to save up for a fun family vacation or event such as a Disney trip. Make your goals specific and measurable so you can see your progress.
"A great way to visualize your savings is to add up the amount of money from your receipts that you saved by couponing and put that money in a big glass jar on your counter. (You could use Monopoly money to make it fun.) Tell your family that when you get to a certain amount, you'll use the savings for a family event or purchase. Have them help decide the goal."
Keeping Their Favorite Foods Stocked
Those of you with teenagers, or boys for that matter, know how hard it is to keep food stocked when it's going out faster than you can get it on the shelf. Why not use "Inventory Lists" (see chapter 3) and encourage your husband and teenagers to cross off items they've eaten? This way you can always keep their favorite foods on hand.
"My husband was not on board the first year. He thought it was a waste of time and didn't see the true savings. So in January of the second year I challenged him to match dollar-for-dollar all my coupon savings. I would save my receipts, and in December he would write me a check for that amount. December came, and let's just say he was convinced when he ended up writing a check for over $1,200."
Teach Your Children about Money
In addition to saving money yourself, you can teach your children the value of money at an early age. Getting the whole family involved on grocery trips is not only fun (if you have the trip well-planned) but is a great way to instill your values in a very practical way. The best way to learn is by experience, and what better experience than to give your children some ownership and responsibilities with the family grocery budget? Not only are you teaching them how to save money, but you are helping them with lifelong skills like math, decision making, and problem solving.
Excerpted from Saving Savvy by Kelly Hancock. Copyright © 2011 Kelly Hancock. Excerpted by permission of WORTHY PUBLISHING.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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